NEET 2019: Eligibility Confusion and Distress for PwD Candidates

NEET 2019, the national-level entrance exam for admission to MBBS and BDS courses in India, has been a constant cause of confusion for candidates with disabilities (PwD) from the beginning. The application process for NEET 2019 started on November 1, 2018 when many candidates with Disabilities filled the form according to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

As the brochure released for the exam in 2018 stated that the candidates with disabilities will be eligible to apply for NEET 2019 as per the guidelines under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 which allows 21 disabilities to be included.

But on November 16, Medical Council of India (MCI) released a draft guideline which excluded many disabilities to be eligible for NEET 2019. MCI further invited objections to be submitted till 30 November, which was the last date for applying for NEET 2019.

The entire scenario has created a lot of confusion and distress for all such candidates with disabilities as they are left in a state of limbo. The MCI and Government of India has failed to step in and provide a meaningful resolution to this confusion state of confusion which can affect the future of thousands of medical aspirants in the country.

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Present Scenario in NEET 2019

National Testing Agency (NTA) has meanwhile released dates for NEET 2019 Form Correction and all the students can make corrections to their forms till January 31, 2019. But the PWD candidates who have filled NEET 2019 form are still not sure and Medical Council of India and the Union health ministry has not finished updating the guidelines for the candidates.

As per reports, two MCI officials said that they have finished the updating guidelines for PWD candidates after taking feedback from various stakeholders who had objected to provisions in it. They further added that MCI had a meeting on it and the guidelines have been forwarded to the health ministry from their side. Different statements are coming from various sources regarding NEET Eligibility Criteria for PWD candidates and all these developments have messed up the entire situation.

While another MCI official casually remarked that according to the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, “MCI is not supposed to finalise anything, we can only make recommendations to the Union government. It is not our responsibility.”

Dr. Satendra Singh on behalf of Doctors with Disabilities said that this scenario has put the aspiring students in confusion whether to apply for the exam via General Category or the Disabled Category. He further added that the guidelines by MCI are against the 2016 Act.

MCI Guidelines for PwD Students

Although the NEET 2019 brochure said that all the candidates with disabilities are eligible to apply for NEET 2019 but MCI guidelines have excluded many from it because of newly added provisions in the guidelines which have modified the existing eligibility criteria. For example, the guidelines state that the people with a visual impairment, hearing impairment, dyslexia of more than 40% disability, will not be eligible to appear for NEET 2019. Similarly, people with blood disorders which give them a disability of more than 80% will not be eligible for the exam.

These guidelines are against the 2016 Act and the candidates who have filled the form and even manage to qualify the exam, will be still subject to re-evaluation according to new guidelines. This is likely to leave many candidates with a sense of dejection at the end of NEET 2019.